another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Tall Structures

As noted in tonight's "Fun Facts" on the Late Show with David Letterman:
"Prior to the discovery of penicillin, laughter was the best medicine".

Today, I laughed and laughed, and just couldn't stop for a long time.

It was during yesterday's episode of Jeopardy! (preserved on Tivo). In the category "Tall Structures":
The world's tallest supported structure is a 2,063-foot tower in North Dakota used primarily for this

Incredibly bad response given by one contestant:
"What is Storage?".

I just couldn't stop laughing to enumerate the many things were wrong with that response.

Literally. Every time I tried to make a comment to Matt on why I was laughing, I just got going again. Failed my save against "Tasha's Hideous Laughter".

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cancellation Shuffle

In which, I arrive home just a little late.

Tuesday morning, I did two conference calls from my hotel room as I'm finishing packing, check out which still on the second call, then work in the lobby for a while (WiFi in the lobby). Then I grabbed a late lunch (California Pizza Kitchen) and started driving to the airport for my 6:30 flight.

I got only about a mile down the highway when I got a call - automated alert from United that they'd canceled my flight.

So, I find an exit and a spot to park as quickly as I could, then called home to talk to Kalen. I'd missed the customer service phone number on the message, but I knew that the same message would have come in at home (if I'd thought about it, the message was also on my voice mail at work).

I called customer service, and they could get me booked on the 5:03 flight. Huh? My flight was canceled, but an earlier one was available?

Anyway, could I get to the airport in time for the 5:03 flight, they asked. It was 3:01, I was a half hour from the airport, had to return a rental car, and I knew I'd have to have my bag checked about an hour before the flight time or they might bump me. It would be close, but ... sure ... I can just make it.

Avis was a bit slower checking in than normal because lots of people wound up returning their cars at the same time. And, I hate the rental car set-up in Philadelphia for Avis. The bus had to go all the way back out of the airport area to get turned around back to the terminal, and then I had to get to the fourth stop to get off for United. I kept checking my watch as the time ticked closer.

When I got to the terminal, though, there was zero wait for United check-in, so I was safe. I got checked in with a few minutes to spare, and already knew the flight was sure to be delayed anyway.

The 5:03 flight got delayed to a 7:00 take-off, so only about a half-hour later than my original flight. So, I didn't even really have to hang around the terminal more than I'd figured on anyway, and we got into Chicago at about 8:30, only about 20 minutes late all told.

The 2:30 flight Philly to Chicago took off at 6:15 from Philly, and got in about 15 minutes before my flight. And I'm sure that some people that were booked on the 5:03 flight hopped over to that 2:30 flight on standby, as the 5:03 flight I took wound up with some empty seats. Right after their flight boarded I realized they took several standbys, so I went over to the automated kiosk, checked seats and was able to move from a middle seat in the last row to the window seat further forward. And, the seat next to me wound up empty. So, not only was I barely late, but I was in more comfort than expected.

The vagarities of why my flight was canceled and the other flights let through are beyond mortal ken. The reason seemed to be that United got a few landing slots trimmed in Chicago due to weather problems much earlier in the day. Why my original flight rather than one of those others -- who knows.

Anyway, I'm home again. Yay!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Of course you know, This Means War !

Winter War, that is! The long delayed Winter War post.

I tried to get caught up on sleep and get everything organized before Winter War. I was mostly successful, and wasn't quite so frantic on Friday morning. The weather was OK, roads fine, traffic a bit heavy through the suburbs, but we got to the hotel in Champaign with enough time to spare to register for the con, check in to the hotel room, get slightly settled (big room), and get some lunch at Friday's.

My goal for the convention was to catch up on all the regional Verbobonc modules that I'd fallen behind on because I had no time to do zeroes before Stuffed COWS. I was playing through the whole weekend as Aelorin, my sixth-level law-enforcement tank (Paladin 3/Fighter 2/Outcast Champion 1).

Slot 1: VER 7-05: "The Lion and the Dragon". I played this with Ryan, and I was appointed "commander" of the table due to the greater number of regional mods I'd played with my character, plus it was perfectly in-character for him to take command. The problem - one person didn't follow orders. I could chalk it up to the barbarian playing "wild" and thus in-character, or I could chalk it up to a bad choice by the player. Either way, we got our asses kicked, and barely escaped without any fatalities among our group. If the one guy had followed orders -- we still would have gotten our asses kicked. It's a good mod, but it kicked our asses.

Slot 2: VER 7-06: "The Swan and the Crow". Played with Matt and Ryan. We were frustrated by much of this module, but I think that's the way it's written. It took way to long to get to the meat of the story. When we got there, the story was good, and we did everything we needed to do -- but there was soooo much frustrating crap before that. Also, the judge didn't facilitate us getting past our frustration.

Slot 3: VER 7-07: "A Bitter Pill". Played with Matt and Ryan. A good story, decent amount of stuff going on, and the judge kept this moving so we we're feeling too hard the fact that we played this from midnight to 3am.

3am - Hit the bed hard. Alarm set for 8am for a quick shower before the next slot.

Slot 4: Saturday morning - Matt, Ryan and I were split three ways as I was judging VER 7-08 "Race the Spirit's Lightning". My favorite current mod to run, even though it runs too long to be contained in a four-hour slot. In this case, we had a long break between slots due to the auction, so I had time to run get some lunch from McDonald's.

Slot 5: VER 8-01 "Mediation". Not "Meditation", as it read in one spot, which would be entirely different. There were a couple of "Whoa" spots in the mod, but for some reason I don't remember other parts as well as I should. Again, I played this with Matt and Ryan along with three other people who only came for that one slot. It was a very good table to play with, though.

Slot 6: VERI 8-01 "Investiture" - again, played with Matt and Ryan along with a couple other people I like playing with - Suzanne Wills and her daughter, with Brandy judging. I got to play about half of it with this crew, then I got dragged away for the Mounted Borderers special mission (all four of us playing Mounted Borderers). Both the Mounted Borderers and the table I left behind were successful, which was NOT true at a lot of other tables. The resulting bloodbath, and the investiture of the new viscount, will probably get rolled into the end of "Mediation" for the general release, since this interactive is not going to be replayed (it doesn't lend itself to replay at all).

That was Saturday, and my head hit the bed about 1am, again leading to the 8am wakeup.

Slot 7: I was judging again - I managed to volunteer for all the morning, short-sleep slots. I judged the module that was originally the Cienega Valley special mission, that I played earlier with Joe, my ranger-scout/resident of the town of Cienega Valley. In this case, there were no Cienega Valley resident at the table, and no Pelor worshippers, so the mission didn't have the personal attachment. However, it was a table full of people I really like judging for, folks that I have fun playing with. And they did a good job with the module and I challenged them pretty well with the real "boss-fight". They just walked through one encounter that was supposed to be tough, though, as one guy was perfectly suited to do a ton of damage in one round and then be done for the day. In that fight, his big smack-down was all they needed.

Slot 8, and final: VER 7-09 "Jinxed". A fun mod, as I would expect from the author. I played with Matt and Ryan again, and we had an easier time with it than the judge had anticipated. It didn't help that we broke the mod a bit by killing someone who was supposed to get away. By this time in the convention, Aelorin was just in the mood to smack on bad things, and this mod provided the bad things.

We got done, finished packing up, grabbed something to eat, and got out of Champaign and on the road to Aurora, so I could get to bed and be on the road again the next day. But that's another story, that I've already told.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lunch in Delaware

A weekend off from work - though I'll check e-mails here shortly.

Saturday afternoon I spent several enjoyable hours with Mike Norton, my pal from Legends. I was surprised when Mike said it had been six years since we'd seen each other last in Chicago, but I trust his accounting of it. Anyway, we had a nice late-lunch at a Mexican restaurant that he knew, and then drove around the area chatting and him sharing local info. As usual, he captures it better over on his blog.

Saturday evening - laundry.

Today, I drove over to Valley Forge National Historic Park, and spend a bit of time going through the exhibits in the visitor center. It's really a place that should be visited in better weather, though, so that it's nicer to walk the site. The grounds were pretty busy, though, with families with plastic toboggans, cross-country skiers, and people just walking the paths -- but I was happy to leave it to them.

After that, I just felt like driving. I drove south and had lunch in Wilmington Delaware -- just because I've never been to Delaware before.

Tonight, I'm watching the Oscar presentations while typing this -- as much because Nascar bumped Simpsons/Family Guy reruns (oop, I just flipped over and I see the Simpsons is on now -- the one where Homer has lost 24 hours of memory -- OK, been there, seen that).

Tomorrow, back to work, but not quite sure how busy it will be yet.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Everyone got an e-mail like the following at work, right?


Reminder American Idol voting starts tonight!!!

OK, maybe it wasn't everyone.

I'll be interesting to see if call volumes go up enough for me to see it without even looking for it (i.e. it triggers some automatic alerts). Should start about ... NOW!

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Sucking Zinc

"Ask your doctor if Placebo is right for you."

I could feel the cold coming when I last wrote. On Saturday I ran out to get some zinc lozenges, as they always seem to help me combat the cold -- whether through real effect or placebo. I didn't do a lot on Saturday or Sunday, partly due to fatigue, partly due to a far-to-long conference call on Saturday afternoon (did it really have to got for three hours?). On Sunday I drove around Valley Forge National Historic Park for a bit, but didn't really feel like stopping. I may go there for a bit next weekend if the weather is better and I feel better. Sunday in the early evening I did some laundry (at a nearby laundromat, since the guest laundry here is broken) and got some take out dinner.

Sunday night, I was sick. Feverish, mainly, but the food I'd gotten also may have been a bit too rich and caused some indigestion. Whatever. I slept only in spurts. The fever broke hard in the night, but then came back in the morning. Through noon yesterday I was a mess again. Between the zinc, acetaminophen, and eating lightly I recovered OK. I slept like a rock last night, and today I seem to be back to near 100%. Let's see if I can keep to that.

Speaking of recovery, I will note that the co-worker's son that I mentioned earlier -- the one wounded in the NIU shooting -- is mentioned briefly in this Chicago Tribune article. We'll see if that link actually works for those that may not be Tribune subscribers. Anyway, he's mentioned as still being in Good Samaritan hospital in fair condition. From the article it sounds like there were three taken to Good Sam, so that matches what Ellen said of her seeing a helicopter hovering waiting for another to clear the helipad.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Frederick the Great of Prussia

OK, I'm in a town that is not actually a town, and it's not actually named after Frederick the Great or any other King of Prussia. And I wouldn't know any of that if it weren't for the Wikipedia article.

I flew into Philadelphia early on Monday morning, after getting back from Winter War (another story). Not as early as I was supposed to, as the plane coming from Detroit was delayed due to mechanical problems. They wound up switching planes, and we got off about 2.5 hours late.

The story of this week has been sleep deprivation, not aided by the sleep deficit I built up at Winter War. Every night there has been drive testing from midnight until 4am (give or take half an hour), and then often a bit of clean up work after the drive test. Then a project conference call at 9am. Then, whatever needs to be done during the day. Then another project conference call at 4pm. Then dinner, maybe a nap, and another drive test. That has been the pattern every day. So, I've been operating on, at best, five hours of sleep each night all week.

I've also got the sniffles (hard to call it a cold, but maybe getting there), and sore ribs after I fell on Tuesday (leaving Friday's after dinner I missed the edge of the curb, sprawling into the slush from the snow/sleet that had been falling). So, I'm a bit of a mess.

There's another drive test tonight, but no 9am call -- so I can sleep in!

No, I'm not driving for the drive test. I'm on the phone listening to how the calls are going, turning on and off logging, and adjusting parameters if the calls aren't as successful as they should be. Last night I did nod off during the drive test call (for about an hour, I guess), but I wasn't actually doing anything at that point and if they needed me I probably would have heard them calling for me on the conference call.

This weekend -- sleep, at least for a while. There's a 4pm call tomorrow, but it may not amount to much. From there I'll figure out if there's a Saturday drive test. Then we'll see what Sunday brings.

Thanks, you've been a great audience. I'm here 'til a week from Tuesday. Don't forget to tip your server!

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It turns out, the son of one of my co-workers was wounded in the Northern Illinois classroom shooting. He was wounded pretty badly, airlifted out to Good Samaritan Hospital near us (the medical campus where Ellen works, but not for the hospital), and after surgery is now expected to recover fully.

(for those not from the area, the Northern Illinois campus is about 30 miles WNW of my house)

And of course, I heard more news stories today about it. Everything that I heard was that the campus police had prepared for such an emergency (spurred by the Virginia Tech shootings last year), practiced, and executed the plan to the best of their abilities. It was said that some campus police were on the scene in 30 seconds.

But, there's only so far that such preparation can take you unless you're willing to lock down the entire campus and do searches of everyone. And, even then, there's only so much protection that provides. Shit happens, even when everything else goes according to plan.

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